Empowered Women Empower: Meet Giselle DiBlasi of Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet
Originally from West Columbia, Texas, Giselle DiBlasi Pugh has lived and breathed dance all her life. She studied with Margo & Dennis Marshall in Houston and was a member of the City Ballet of Houston for five years. Her training has been perfected by several intensive workshops with the Boston Ballet, Houston Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet in New York and San Antonio. An alumna of the University of Oklahoma, Giselle received her Bachelor’s degree in Ballet Performance. Throughout her career, she has performed numerous lead roles, toured with the Oklahoma Festival Ballet to Nice, France in 2000 and Cancun, Mexico in 2002, and so much more. Upon moving to Georgia, Giselle became a principal dancer with Atlanta Festival Ballet for 12 seasons, along with working as the Director of Operations. The list of her accomplishments goes on…
Today, Giselle is the founder, owner, and director of Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet, a performing arts and ballet company that offers professional dance instruction for all ages and skill levels, located in McDonough, Georgia. Established in 2015, Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet offers classes in ballet, contemporary, tap, jazz, musical theatre, and hip-hop. GDSB continues to grow and thrive through entertaining recitals, full-length ballets, and award-winning competition teams.
Giselle’s success is legendary as she is a prosperous wife, mother, dancer, and entrepreneur. Her love for dance, family, and community is unlike any other. So, how does she do it all?
Read on to learn more about Giselle DiBlasi and be empowered!
Meet Giselle DiBlasi of Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet
Love Happens: At ‘Love Happens’ we are firm believers that you cannot achieve success without love. When did your love affair with ballet begin? And how did it make you feel?
Giselle DiBlasi: It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with ballet. I have very early memories of loving dance. The love most likely started as a way to express myself, use my imagination, and just be creative, and then turned into something that I loved doing — a passion of mine. My mom signed me up for classes when I was 3 and I never stopped. As I progressed in my technique, started dancing on pointe, and watched the professional dancers in performances at Houston Ballet, I realized that this was what I wanted to do as my career.
Lh: What were some challenges you faced when creating your ballet school? And how did you overcome them?
Giselle: The biggest challenge for me was balancing my time with my family and the hours it takes to start a business from scratch. My kids were young at the time — 5 and 3 years old. Not to mention, studio dance is an extracurricular and offered after school and work hours. So, the hours I was away at work were the opposite of when my husband and kids were at school or work. I lost time with my family, which was very challenging as a mom and a wife. However, they were so supportive and excited for me.
The other challenge was just learning about running a business — my own business. I spent many years managing another dance studio, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t the owner. Therefore, I spent many hours talking and seeking advice from other small business owners, my friends, and my husband when I was unsure of something.
It also helped to be in a building like the Hood Street Art Center, because I was surrounded by other talented artists. The network between Andy Davis (late owner of Hood Street Art Center), The Henry Players (local theatre group), and several visual artists with studios in the Gallery was also very helpful as I navigated opening a studio.
Lh: You created your ballet school after marrying your husband. Why was it important to you to go by your maiden name at GDSB?
Giselle: I was dancing professionally when I got married. My director at the time jokingly told me how I was going to lose my perfect “stage name”. So, when I started thinking about the name for the studio, I loved the idea of using my “stage name” in the title. With close to 15 years living and working in Henry County, it also was helpful to have my name in the title to build my program. My name and reputation were critical in those first few months of opening the studio and bringing dancers into classes. It was also in honor of my late father, who encouraged and motivated me to pursue my dreams.
Lh: How do you ensure body positivity in an industry that has been known to be connected to a more negative side of body image?
Giselle: Unfortunately, I had several experiences of the negative side of body image while growing up. It was difficult at times, but I eventually became strong enough to not allow it to negatively affect me or hinder me from achieving my dreams and goals. I was able to get to this place because I had many teachers and directors along the way who believed in me, giving me the confidence I needed to truly believe in myself and my art form. I decided not to dwell on the negative. As a director and a teacher, I try to remain true to that.
I focus on building each dancer’s self-confidence and esteem to ensure they know each person is created beautifully different and special in their own way. I want all my dancers to take away from the studio that anything is possible. After all, dance is really for anyone who wants it. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and that is completely normal. That’s what makes each dancer unique in their art form and as a person. I celebrate who we are as beautiful individuals.
Lh: How do you balance being an amazing mother to two children, founder, director, and teacher of GDSB?
Giselle: Having that balance between everything is very important to me. It takes a team that supports and loves you very much! I have to ask for help a lot, and at times I have to say, “No.” That is not easy for me and took some time for me to learn and be at peace with. But, at the end of the day, my dancers are an extension of my family.
Lh: What is the best advice you have received? And where/who did that advice come from?
Giselle: The best advice I have received was from my husband. It was the moment the opportunity of having my studio presented itself. “Take this leap of faith,” he said. “You got this!”
Lh: What do you want the women who dream of starting a ballet school to know?
Giselle: It is a lot of hard work. But, if you love dance and teaching, then it will be more than worth it. Be sure to know your goals, expectations, and mission statement. These things will be questioned, and so it is important to keep these things close to you. Remember to refer to them during difficult decisions or when you feel lost on the right path. It’s important to know what you want to accomplish and always be listening, learning, and growing to those around you.
Be ready to make changes, stand up for your dreams, and know you will be wrong at times. I tell my students to be like a sponge during classes, but sometimes this is a great reminder for me! Walking around like you know everything or like you are better than everyone will not get you anywhere. As artists, we are constantly evolving and growing. Learning never stops at any level.
Lh: What is next for GDSB?
Giselle: Each year I strive to provide the best possible experience for my GDSB dancers.
By Caitlin Battle
Images Courtesy of Giselle DiBlasi School of Ballet